How to Clean Billiard Balls: Cleaning Routine to Maintain Your Table

Cleaning billiard balls is a topic that sounds somewhat simple when you think of them as merely hardened plastics that can be wiped clean with a fabric. Are you aware that every detail of keeping the pool balls clean will affect your gameplay? 

Apart from cleaning the pool table felt and ensuring you have the right cue sticks, clean billiard balls can also go a long way in improving your gaming experience. And when done regularly as it should, you’ll get to save a lot of money too in the long run.

After getting the best pool table with fabulous break cues to match it, you would also want seamlessly perfect billiard balls to make the ensemble complete.

What Causes Billiard Balls to Get Dirty?

Anyone who’s played a game of pool in a grubby bar understands the frustrations of playing with dirty equipment. The pool balls pass through all sorts of dirty exposures, including dust from the air, chalk dust residue, or grease from handling.

Pool balls can also get dirty when stored in a dusty spot. So apart from just keeping the balls clean, they must be kept in an enclosed casing.

Benefits of Having Clean Billiard Balls

Why is it so important to keep your pool balls clean? Apart from making them aesthetically appealing, keeping the cue balls clean has a direct effect on how you enjoy your gameplay.

Maintaining the Friction Co-efficiency

One key factor that matters when playing pool is the friction co-efficiency on the ball. As you apply a spin on a billiard ball, it has to be transferred to the ball effectively. This can only take place if there’s enough friction, which is determined by how clean the cue ball is.

Smooth Rolling

When the billiard balls are clean, they’ll have smooth and easy rolling on the pool table surface, thus giving a player real value for their effort. Additionally, with unhindered roll, there’s less friction on the felt hence reduced wearing off. And that results in saving money in the long run.

Dirty cue balls have a rough feel and are more likely to wear out the pool table surface. With increased friction, you’ll be replacing the felt sooner or later.

Improved Neatness and Gaming Appeal

At times, we like to enjoy pool table play while catching a cold beer and a greasy burger with friends. In the end, the billiard balls end up stained and with an unpleasant look. Keeping them clean enhances the mood of players apart from just making them appealing. Everybody wants to enjoy their gameplay, with clean cue balls, the gaming experience becomes more appealing.

How to Clean Billiard Balls (A Step-By-Step Guide)

Cleaning pool balls shouldn’t be rocket science, so don’t try to imagine how to clean using the household cleaning methods you’re used to. Instead, keep it as simple as possible to avoid causing damage to the balls unintentionally.  Here’s a simple way to keep your billiard balls clean and improve your gameplay.

Method 1: Cleaning with Detergent and Water

The method is ideal for cleaning balls made from phenolic or polyester resin.

Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Fill a bucket with slightly warm tap water
  2. Add gentle detergent soap to the water and shake to lather
  3. Drop the billiard balls into the bucket of water and soak them for about 10 minutes
  4. Use a gentle brush to scrub the balls to remove all the dirt
  5. Wrap the balls in a dry towel to absorb the water and leave them to dry

Ensure that the billiard balls are dried thoroughly to avoid spots forming on the surface. After drying, you may also clean them further using a pool ball polisher. Alternatively, you can use baking soda in water to remove stubborn stains or greasy marks. Baking soda won’t corrode the surface of the balls, so it’s safe to use.

Method 2: Cleaning Using a Pool Ball Polisher 

If you have billiard balls made of wood or metal, using water and detergent is not ideal. Cleaning with a pool ball polisher is the most appropriate method. The polisher can also be used on polyester resin and phenolic resin balls.

Using a polisher is more effective as it also gives the balls a shiny finish with a fresh new-look appeal. This method is the simplest and gives the most desirable results.

Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Shake the polisher solution bottle and apply it to the billiard balls
  2. Use a microfiber cloth to polish the surface of the balls for about a minute
  3. Dry the balls further using a dry clean cloth while ensuring no cleaning product is left on the surfaces

Why Do Billiard Balls Turn Yellow?

If wondering how to clean billiard balls that have turned yellow, you shouldn’t worry. Yellowing of the pool balls doesn’t affect gameplay. Apart from an aesthetic concern, it has nothing to do with the gaming experience or affecting the lifespan of the felt.

Phenolic resin cue balls become yellowed because of UVlight and heat on the material. Ivory pool balls also develop a characteristic yellow tinge as it ages. Balls made from polyester resin don’t yellow, instead, they become gray. All these don’t have to worry you as they’re simply a sign of aging.

Some people claim that keeping pool balls in darkened places makes them yellow. This type of yellowing isn’t caused by the darkness, but rather the heat exposure or simply the natural aging process. 

How to Get the Cue Ball White Again?

There isn’t much that you can do to keep the cue balls from yellowing other than taking good care of them. Make sure that your store them away from heat sources or areas with high temperatures. Also, keep away any type of UV light exposure, which is the main culprit of yellowing phenolic resin balls.

Always store the billiard balls in an enclosed lid, such as a billiard ball carrying case. Taking these simple precautions can help greatly in reducing the yellowing, but eventually, they’ll turn.

Thinking about how to clean billiard balls that have yellowed? It may not be possible to make them completely white again. However, you can use the following methods to give them a whiter finish.

Pool Ball Polisher

Aramith Phenolic Billiard Ball Care
  • Includes Aramith Pool Ball Cleaner and Aramith Pool Ball Restorer
  • Both Cleans and Polishes Phenolic Pool Balls

This polisher removes the yellow tinge on the ball and restoring the white shine. It’s more effective when applied every time after every game. One of the popular cue ball polisher brands is the AramithPhenolic Billiard Ball Care.

What NOT to do When Cleaning Billiard Balls

When brainstorming how to clean billiard balls, don’t get too smart with the methods. Some cleaning methods are not ideal as they can only cause further damage than keeping the balls clean.

Don’t use household cleaning products

Most household cleaning products have corrosive properties and can corrode the surfaces of the balls. Bleaching products can discolor the non-white regions and destroy the balls’ aesthetics.

Avoid dishwashing

Putting the billiard balls in a dishwasher may seem like an easy solution, but it can also create more damage than the intended results.  Since billiard balls consist of polyester resin or phenolic resin, they can easily be affected by heat in the dishwasher.

Dishwashers will also affect the balls’ core integrity, resulting in a dull appearance and reduced durability.

Final Thoughts

We all want our gameplay to be enjoyable so it’s important to invest in ways to keep your pool or billiard balls clean. When searching for how to clean billiard balls, ensure that you consider the type of pool balls you have. Polyester resin or phenolic resin balls are somewhat sensitive to cleaning substances that can react with these materials.

It’s important to also keep your billiard pockets in good order. If your table includes leather pockets, it’s a good idea to apply leather conditioner regularly.

It may be tempting to use a wax to keep your billiard balls clean and shiny but there are plenty of reasons not to use it.

Ensure that the balls are handled in the right manner and avoid staining them with grease or oil. Plan to do regular cleaning, once a week is a good frequency to get the most out of billiard balls and enjoy your gameplay.